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Statement on the meeting of President Zuma with the South African National Editors’ Forum

President Jacob Zuma today, 20 February 2015, met with the leadership of the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) at Sefako M Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria where they discussed matters of common interest.

President Zuma described the meeting as “friendly, cordial and frank and afforded us the opportunity to discuss current issues as well as reflect on the events of last week in Parliament during the State of the Nation Address (SONA).”

The President reiterated to the meeting his condemnation of both the disruption of SONA proceedings and the jamming of the network signal. President Zuma pointed out that the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster had already addressed the media and the public on the incidents of the day. He further reassured the SANEF leadership of government’s commitment to freedom of speech and the media, as well as freedom to disseminate information and impart knowledge to the South African public.

“The jamming of the signal was wrong, it was uncalled for and should never happen again,” said President Zuma.

The SANEF leadership accepted the President’s words of reassurance and expressed appreciation of the President’s commitment to freedom of speech and the media as well as his willingness to engage with them.
Both President Zuma and SANEF agreed on the sacrosanctity of Parliament as an apex institution of democracy.

The leadership of SANEF further appraised the President of their attempts to engage government and parliamentary leadership and media liaison persons on the jamming of the signal long before the commencement of SONA and the President expressed his regret that solutions could not be found beforehand.

The meeting also discussed issues of the continent of Africa, welcoming the recent appointment of the editor of the Sunday Independent, Mr Jovial Rantao as the Chairperson of the African Editors Forum. Both parties hoped that the appointment would elevate South Africa’s contribution to building a better Africa and also promote the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The Chairperson of SANEF, Sowetan editor Mr Mpumelelo Mkhabela, described the meeting as very successful and added that “there were more issues we agreed on, including that we must strive always to resolve issues the South African way, that is, through dialogue.”

The Presidency and SANEF agreed to meet more regularly and ensure continuously open channels of communication.

Mac Maharaj on 079 879 3203 or
SANEF Chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela on 082 296 2541.

Issued by the Presidency